Comments on: It Should Be Free? Official blog of Red Sweater Software Fri, 09 Oct 2015 20:11:22 +0000 hourly 1 By: Daniel Jalkut Mon, 31 Mar 2008 01:50:35 +0000 OK, Jenna. You get the last word. I’m tired of the downward-spiraling tangent. I’m closing comments now.

By: Jenna Fox Sun, 30 Mar 2008 22:05:17 +0000 Answering questions from Peter Maurer above:

1: I have never been able to work, I was born with psychological problems, which have been made worse by a childhood and teenage years full of abuse. I’ve been hurt so much by situations like school, where I legally had to be there and had no way out, that I’m so scared of commitment, the commitment of a project deadline and feature requests and even support scares me to the point where I am so locked up in my own fear that I cannot even walk upright, type, speak, and in the worst cases, understand the meaning of other people’s speech beyond the individual words they say.

Once, last year, I was living with someone I thought was a friend. I had been experiencing a bad day, a bad week, and I walked down the hallway of my mum’s house, got to the bathroom door, tried to open it… When I turned the door handle, but the door didn’t open, the stress finally collapsed from that little bit more confusion. I collapsed too, banged my head on the luckily carpeted floor, and laid there for hours in pain, unable to move or communicate. My supposed friend came along, and talked to me. I didn’t understand it, but I did hear this one word.


My income from donationware is about $10–20 per month. For which it might as well be freeware. My income from the government pension I receive is 8k a year, which still leaves me unable to cover my food, electricity, rent… Luckily my mum is covering that.

2: I can’t handle odd textures on my skin, like paper. It leads me to panic. I live at home, with only one friend in the state, and so usually the only time I leave my house is to go grocery shopping with mum. I also have a fear of shopping centers, but that’s irrelevant. I’m scared to be outside on my own. I’m trying to get the courage to do it, step by step, but it’s hard when one has no place to go. So I use my computer and my internet connection to download entertainment, to socialize with people far away who help me feel a little safer and calmer, and for creativity, like drawing, as well as interactive art.

I have a hard life, and I am not going to consciously choose freeware that will make my life harder over well designed commercial software. It is as simple as that and has nothing to do with money or copyright or anything else.

Even the holy texts of many cruel religions have stories of how it is okay for a poor person to steal a loaf of bread to eat. Why is this different? This is better, I can take my loaf, and the vendor doesn’t have any less loafs of bread. They incur no loss. I once used to steal from a grocery store for a few days, I would go in there, buy some candy, and i’d steal a packet of Tic Tac’s. Theft was something my father showed me, but after about the third time I decided it was wrong, and that I would not steal anything again. And I havent. I am very morally opposed to theft.

As far as your aggression towards me, I always donate to donationware projects when I download and make use of them. I haven’t used any of your tools, but I’ve come close. I remember your webpage… You have just bullied away a potential future paying customer. I have also donated to some applications my webhost uses, like Apache, and nonprofit websites like Wikipedia. My strong morals are about all I have to be proud of in this world, so I suggest you get stuffed Peter Maurer. What you have done is not debate a real issue, but take out frustrations with your business model on a mentally disabled 19 year old girl with all but no friends and nearly no life, who regularly spends days considering suicide using the very tranquilizers that keep her panic’s in control, between near daily panic attacks.

3: It is not a technical term. It is a mean spirited derogatory term invented by the media industry to make a villain of those who share their product with friends. It is designed to express hate, and to compare customer’s to ethic-less murderers. You are a very cruel person to want to call me that. You deserve what you get with that attitude of hate towards your potential customers. I’m really depressed about the thing’s you have said about me, but I know deep down through experience that you are just an asshole, whose words are cruel and meaningless.

Did it ever occur to you that just because someone can’t pay full price on a product, doesn’t mean they “don’t seem to care about how we’re going to make ends meet?”. It is a flaw in the business modal and not in the user to be unable to pay. There are jerks who will use your product and never donate. I am not one of them.

Does anyone else want a piece of me? I must be an easy target with all this honesty about what I do and personal weaknesses. I’m now going to make an effort to spread this information about Peter Maurer’s attitude towards users.

By: Jenna Fox Sun, 30 Mar 2008 21:11:15 +0000 No, I was not asking for donationware. Just senior/student/pensioner discounts, negotiable if possible. I am also asking for a less aggressive attitude towards unlicensed user’s by the industry to avoid alienating them. I’m also asking for software developers to have a ‘donate’ button or link or a casual mention of ‘paypal email’ somewhere so that even people who can’t afford full price, and aren’t qualified for an official discount, can donate whatever amount they want if they want to support the author. I’d like to see the last one applied to musicians too.

Things I am not asking for: Freeware, Donationware, Open Source, Reduced normal pricing, or anything like that.

My own personal experiences with donationware have soured me to that idea. Website statistics show that only about one out of every one thousand of my user’s donate anything, and they usually only ever donate one moment before emailing a stupid support question.

By: Peter Maurer Sun, 30 Mar 2008 20:58:34 +0000 Another thing missing from the bar analogy, IMHO, is donationware. It also seems to be what Jenna is asking for. And I’ve done it. In fact, I’m still doing it. It’s great, and I’m very proud of those $2 donations by users who just couldn’t afford more, while still being eager to contribute.

However, I’ve got a couple of questions for you, Jenna:

1. When you were still working, did you ever do anything like that? Would you even have considered it? Do have the slightest idea how hard it is to survive on voluntary playment? It starts with things like convincing services like that maybe donationware shouldn’t be listed as freeware.

2. You seem to feel entitled to use software you can’t afford. How come? What exactly do you _need_ your computer for that couldn’t be achieved via public library, snail mail and a typewriter?

3. This is more a suggestion than a question: As long as you don’t feel bad about using commercial software without paying, I don’t think you should be too offended by being called a pirate. It’s not like you’re being attacked without any reason; and it’s just a technical term. Also, did it ever occur to you we software developers may feel disrespected by users who use our products, but don’t seem to care about how we’re going to make ends meet? Nevertheless, you’re definitely right about one thing: software developers should treat pirates with kindness — after all, they’re future customers. Personally, I like to pull their leg ever so slightly (one of my apps greets them with an “Arr Matey” full-screen window), but not in a malicious way.

Anyway, yeah. It should be free. And whatever you are doing for a living, dear reader, should be free as well. In the real world, however, that doesn’t really work. Some of us Europeans tried it for a couple of decades, but even the Russians seem to like capitalism these days.

By: Daniel Jalkut Sun, 30 Mar 2008 04:23:18 +0000 Jonathan: As you might imagine, I could feel the edge cases beckoning as I tried to summarize things into a mere 5 categories. I consider the discounted sale to be part of “subsidized sale.” I think it’s basically one of many arrangements by which the seller considers some degree of “freeness” to be worth it, in exchange for compensation.

By: Jonathan Grynspan Sun, 30 Mar 2008 04:20:24 +0000 I feel you’ve left out a type of transaction, i.e. the discounted sale. In the beer analogy, that would be equivalent to the barkeep selling some brew for 25% off. Now, it might not be your favourite, or even fresh, but it’s more affordable than the other lagers and ales and just might do the trick. See also: Boxing Day sales (in the Commonwealth), Apple student pricing, tax refunds, shady expired produce markets.

By: Jenna Fox Sat, 29 Mar 2008 23:37:23 +0000 I did implicitly mean user facing software. My blog does run under wordpress because I’d heard good things about it, and my web host had an automatic wordpress installer. About a week in to installing it I was seriously regretting it. It’s difficult to impossible for me to manipulate beyond installing premade plugins and changing the user facing template. The admin control panel has too many options, is too wide for my typical web browser window, and the post creation window has so much junk in it they needed to break it all in to movable collapsable modules to fit it in. WordPress is the worst kind of open source, the kind with no project leader who has vision, just a whole lot of coders with little to no understanding of usability and general UI design adding more and more crap to the system.

I might change to a hosted web journal provider or something. I’m not sure yet. It’s really only there still because i’ve been lazy about maintaining my website and I’m not sure what my options are as far as better journal software is which can migrate my data out of wordpress’s propritary database structure.

Before wordpress I was using iWeb, which was a wonderful experience except when it came to trying to upload things. Ideally I’d like to switch back to that some day, but it doesn’t seem like that will be practical unless I pay apple for .Mac service.

From my experiences your list of user facing software (of which I have used all of them in some time in my life) none of those have been a good experience.

By: LKM Sat, 29 Mar 2008 23:26:33 +0000 @Justin Williams: When Fake Steve talks about freetards, it’s funny because we know it’s a comedy blog and he isn’t serious. When people use the term seriously, it’s just insulting, like calling Mac users religious fanatics. Also, it doesn’t even make sense in the context of this blog post. Fake Steve’s freetards or proponents of free-as-in-speech software, not free-as-in-beer software, which is the subject of this post.

Jenna Fox wrote:
> [Open Source] sounds like a nice idea, but I’ve yet to
> see any well made software come out of it

Apache, gcc, MySQL, WebKit, Darwin… Or do you mean user-centered software? Firefox, Ubuntu, Audacity, Abiword, Adium, VLC… In fact, doesn’t your very own blog run on WordPress? WordPress is licensed under the (wait for it…) GPL and thus Open Source.

There are many valid ways to distribute and license software. Calling people “freetards” because they like free-as-in-speech software, or pretending that one kind of development style and license couldn’t possibly create good software isn’t exactly helpful. As a developer, I’ve often been thankful for being able to look at the source of something I’m using, or for being able to use open software for my own good, or (license permitting) even as a component of my own software.

By: Jenna Fox Sat, 29 Mar 2008 22:51:05 +0000 I’m not personally a supporter of Open Source. It sounds like a nice idea, but I’ve yet to see any well made software come out of it. Open Source is very selfishly designed software, where every feature, every little thing, was added because a selfish programmer wanted it for their own uses. It is almost never designed for normal people. There’s certainly a lot more value in commercial software for the average user because it’s designed for them and not a unix geek. I like the system of developers writing apps for users, and user’s supporting developers with resources including money. Open Source commercial software, where one pays for access to both the binary and the source is interesting, but it doesn’t feel like something which will work in the real world, though I can imagine it working okay with micropayments, I don’t know that they will become a reality in our lifetimes though.

By: Justin Williams Sat, 29 Mar 2008 22:26:30 +0000 Looking back at this a few days later makes me certain that software should be priced based on value, not complexity or a feature set.

When I am looking for a new tool, the last thing i am looking at is the price. The first thing I care about is if it accomplishes the task well. The second is if it is usable and a better solution than what else is on the market. If it meets those criteria, I ask myself if the price is worth the value add it brings my life. In most cases, it is.

Daniel charges $25 per license for MarsEdit, but I think he could sell it for $49 and still make plenty of sales because of the value it offers users. I can post to 5 different Weblogs on various platforms from a central point. That’s awesome! I don’t need to justify the price of MarsEdit by assigning a dollar value to each specific feature. The time savings the core functionality of the application offer is far more important.

With Pukka, I’d say the same thing. I could use Delibar, Cocoalicious or just the bookmarklets to post to delicious for free, but Pukka offers me a better experience doing that simple task and that is well worth the $15 I paid a year or two ago.

Having said that, I still don’t think there is much you can ever do to appease the freetards that haunt message boards and comment threads. I’ve just become accustomed to regarding their opinion as being on the extreme end of the spectrum.